WMBD/WYZZ/WCIA-TV - Chicago - Day one of Big 10 Media Days is in the books.
Plenty of national attention is on the new caoches and Urban Meyer. Not so much on Illinois, which has plenty of questions on its attempt to rebound from a two-win season.
"Going into the second spring (under coach Tim Beckman), I think as players and as coaches we have become closer," said Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase. "We felt better about it."
Illinois has been trying to win over the Windy City for years, whether it's recruiting or gaining a Chicago buzz. There's still work to do.
"We do that through relationships with high school coaches, going to them, we did three camps in Chicago,"' said Beckman. "Gas prices are four dollars per gallon. I can't control that but I can control what we do. That is go to them."
Illinois tried to make in-roads to Chicago by scheduling an Illini Caravan stop in Evanston in May. That upset the Northwestern faithful.
The Illini eventually moved the event to downtown Chicago.
"I was aware of their plan and repsect the fact they're trying to bring their program to their fans," said Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. " I respect the decisions all programs have to make. We're going to keep our stuff in Chicagoland, like we always do."
Truthfully, the Illini can't worry about Chicago when they are picked at the bottom of the Big 10 preseason poll, based on last year's 2-10 record.
"We don't dwell on last season. It already happened," said Illini lineman Corey Lewis. "Focus week by week on this moment, how hard we worked all offseason to prepare for this season."
The Illini get to work in just over a week. The first practice is at Memorial Stadium on August 4.